Travel to the Preakness Stakes? What You Gotta Know to Ensure the Real Experience

From die-hard racing enthusiasts to first-time visitors, the Preakness offers an unforgettable experience.


The Preakness Stakes, often referred to as “The Middle Jewel” of horse racing’s Triple Crown, is more than just a thrilling race. Held annually on the third Saturday of May at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, Maryland, it’s a cultural phenomenon steeped in tradition and Southern charm. From die-hard racing enthusiasts to first-time visitors, the Preakness offers an unforgettable experience – but to truly immerse yourself in the magic, some planning is essential.

Beyond the Race: A Celebration of History and Entertainment

While the Preakness Stakes itself is the undisputed crown jewel, the event weekend is a multi-day extravaganza. The “Black-Eyed Susan” race, held the day before, features top three-year-old fillies, making it a thrilling showcase of equine talent. Live music, food festivals, and elaborate hat contests all contribute to the festive atmosphere.

Choosing Your Venue: From Infield Fest to Clubhouse Comfort

Pimlico Race Course offers a variety of experiences to suit your budget and preferences.

  • Infield Fest: This vibrant, general admission area is the heart of the party. Expect live music stages, food trucks galore, and a vibrant, social atmosphere – perfect for those who want to soak up the energy of the crowd.
  • Clubhouse: For a more refined experience, consider the Clubhouse. Reserved seating, access to private betting windows, and climate-controlled facilities offer comfort and convenience.
  • Luxury Suites: Take it a step further with a private suite, complete with premium food and beverage service, alongside stunning track views and dedicated concierge services.

Dressing for the Occasion: Tradition Meets Personal Style

The Preakness is renowned for its vibrant fashion scene. While there’s no strict dress code, embrace the spirit of the event. Think colorful suits, elegant dresses, or whimsical fascinators (especially for the ladies).  For InfieldFest, comfort reigns supreme, but a touch of Preakness flair – a playful hat or a unique scarf – adds to the fun.

Planning Your Preakness Stakes Getaway: Logistics and Must-Haves

Preakness Stakes Schedule:  With a jam-packed schedule,  meticulous planning is key. Decide which days you want to attend and purchase tickets in advance, especially for InfieldFest, which can sell out quickly.

Accommodation: Book your hotel well in advance, particularly if you’re traveling from out of town. Baltimore offers a range of options, from charming boutique hotels downtown to convenient chain hotels near the racetrack.

Transportation:  Parking at Pimlico can be congested, especially on race day. Consider utilizing public transportation – the Light RailLink or Metro SubwayLink stations both offer connecting shuttle services to the track. Ride-sharing services are also a popular option.

What to Pack: Essentials include sunscreen, comfortable shoes suitable for walking on grass, and a hat for sun protection.  Cash can be handy for betting windows and food vendors that might not accept cards.

Embrace the Spirit:  Most importantly, come ready to have fun! The Preakness Stakes is a celebration of thoroughbred racing, Southern hospitality, and a touch of friendly competition.  Whether you’re a seasoned racing fan or a curious first-timer, immersing yourself in the energy of the crowd and the spectacle of the race will create memories that last a lifetime.

Insider Tips for Enhancing Your Preakness Experience

Betting on the Race: A Beginner’s Guide

Horse racing can be an exciting gamble, but for newcomers, navigating the betting process can be intimidating. Here’s a quick primer:

  • Programs :Purchase a race program – it provides information on each horse, including jockey, trainer, and past performance data.
  • Betting Windows: There are numerous betting windows scattered throughout Pimlico. Decide on your wager (win, place, show, etc.) and the amount you want to bet.
  • Types of Bets: Start simple! A “win” bet means your chosen horse needs to finish first. A “place” bet means your horse needs to finish first or second. A “show” bet means your horse needs to finish in the top three.

Exploring Baltimore Beyond the Racecourse

While Pimlico is the epicenter of the Preakness experience, Baltimore offers a wealth of attractions.

  • Inner Harbor: This waterfront district boasts charming shops, delicious eateries, and iconic landmarks like the National Aquarium and Fort McHenry.
  • Arts and Culture: Immerse yourself in Baltimore’s vibrant art scene with visits to the Baltimore Museum of Art or the Walters Art Museum.
  • Historic Charm: Explore the cobblestone streets of Fells Point, Baltimore’s oldest seaport, or take a walking tour through the historic Fell’s Point neighborhood.

Making the Most of Your Preakness Weekend

A successful Preakness trip is about more than just the race itself. Here are some additional tips:

  • Pre-Race Festivities: Baltimore comes alive during Preakness week. Attend the “People’s Preakness” – a free event featuring live music and family-friendly activities.
  • Post-Race Celebrations: The party doesn’t end after the final race. Many bars and restaurants in Baltimore host lively Preakness after-parties.
  • Embrace the Unexpected: Be prepared for anything – Maryland weather can be unpredictable. Pack layers and bring an umbrella just in case. Embrace the unexpected conversations and experiences that make the Preakness so special.

With a little planning and these insider tips, your Preakness Stakes adventure will be an unforgettable blend of exhilarating racing, Southern charm, and vibrant Baltimore culture.

Explore Topics

Travel Begins at 40

Travel Begins at 40 Editor

Travel articles, news, special offers, festivals and events from the Travel Begins at 40 Editorial team and our global network of travel industry contributors.

Read more posts by Travel Begins at 40 Editor →

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *